The Bank of England has chosen to hold the bank rate at 5.25%, after yesterday’s announcement that UK inflation had unexpectedly fallen in August.
Today’s decision from the Bank of England ends a series of 14 successive increases in the cost of borrowing since December 2021, which had lifted the base rate to a 15-year high.
Following the latest interest rate announcement, Mike Randall, CEO of Simply Asset Finance, said: “Some welcome news today as a levelling out of interest rates alleviates some pressure for SMEs in the final quarter of 2023.
“From conversations with our customers, remaining productive is a key focus for SMEs, who will now be looking to take advantage of lower borrowing costs and invest in growth opportunities ahead of 2024.
“Whilst the final quarter still presents challenges, with a slight easing of financial pressures, lenders now need to ensure that SMEs can be supported by engaging in open conversations, discussing tangible solutions, and offering accessible rates so businesses can free up cash flow for other essential expenses.”
Theo Chatha, Chief Financial Officer at Bibby Financial Services commented: “The decision to hold interest rates at their current level is welcomed. But, while businesses might breathe a sigh of relief at this pause, the future remains unclear - and we’re certainly not out of the woods yet.
“The reality is that rates remain the highest they have been in 15 years, which is having a particularly acute impact on the UK’s 5.6 million SMEs. Six in ten (61%) of SMEs owners we recently surveyed named inflation and rising costs as their number one concern, and today’s rate hold won’t change that.
“Inflation must be tamed, but it’s critical that policymakers avoid simultaneously damaging business confidence to the point it undermines growth. We would urge the Government to examine the support it can offer SMEs. Small businesses we talk to tell us they’d welcome tax incentives and low interest grants. We’d also encourage the Government to communicate more clearly with SMEs about how they can access finance.”